Two is better than one: Physical interactions improve motor performance in humans

G. Ganesh*, A. Takagi, R. Osu, T. Yoshioka, M. Kawato, E. Burdet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


How do physical interactions with others change our own motor behavior? Utilizing a novel motor learning paradigm in which the hands of two - individuals are physically connected without their conscious awareness, we investigated how the interaction forces from a partner adapt the motor behavior in physically interacting humans. We observed the motor adaptations during physical interactions to be mutually beneficial such that both the worse and better of the interacting partners improve motor performance during and after interactive practice. We show that these benefits cannot be explained by multi-sensory integration by an individual, but require physical interaction with a reactive partner. Furthermore, the benefits are determined by both the interacting partner's performance and similarity of the partner's behavior to one's own. Our results demonstrate the fundamental neural processes underlying human physical interactions and suggest advantages of interactive paradigms for sport-training and physical rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3824
JournalScientific reports
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 23
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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